Thursday, 14 April 2016

F*!#in' Up

What does World of Warcraft have in common with Microsoft? A general inability to do good expansions/OS releases one after the other. Using my rough calculation starting at Windows 95:

Windows 95 - The Burning Crusade
Windows 98 - Wrath of the Lich King
Windows ME - Cataclysm
Windows XP - Mists of Pandaria
Windows Vista - Warlords of Draenor
Windows 7 - Legion ???
Windows 8 - ???
Windows 10 - ???

Before you all complain about my computing timeline, it is the general gist that Warlords of Draenor is the Windows Vista of expansions. I still fix PC's with XP installed, but nobody in their right mind would use Vista.

Part of the problem is Blizzard's in ability to fix a problem with a moderate solution.
  1. 5 Man dungeons are too easy - lets make them really tough - then make them irrelevant
  2. Reputation too easy - lets hide the goodies behind another rep grind that will slow them down - make reputation about vanity items not raiding progression
  3. Raiding sizes vary from raid to another - lets introduce two tiers 10 and 25 man - use variable sizes between 10 and 25 man
  4. Badges multiple levels for each patch - lets slide it down with each patch - get rid of entire system introduce several new currencies before returning back to Valor
  5. Bag sizes too small, increases incrementally - lets  fill those bags by having hundreds of different ingredients for cooking, give them a huge refrigerator for storing food - allow crafting materials to be used from a massive storage structure held in the bank, and then fill it with 3 tiers of fish small, normal and enormous.
This of course is the tip of the Iceberg. I have not even dared to mention ***Flying***. These decisions are evolved over relatively long periods of time if you consider that the average expansion is around 2 years. The assumption is that Devs make these decisions by committee and they like to swing from one extreme to another. Cataclysm was a complete Flyingfest and Warlords of Draenor was a no fly zone. It is easy to see that we will return to a 3rd way with something in between for the Legion expansion.

Warlords of Draenor, as predicted was "An Orc Too Far". Too much of the same thing is never a good thing. Ask yourself how many Dragon bosses have you killed on the way up to Level 100? Blizzard have used many different techniques over the years, but how many more times can they come up with new and improved Dragon abilities? If the only mobs you ever killed were Murlocs and Naga, I would have been out of here years ago. To be honest I had more than enough of killing Orcs in Pandaria, without another entire expansion devoted to them and with a storyline written on the back of a cigarette packet.

The launch of Warlords of Draenor was an utter disaster in my opinion. I know that many of you have long since forgotten, but just remember there is another launch around the corner. I wonder sometimes how Blizzard did not know how many expansions it had sold, a large percentage would have been conducted electronically, it is not like Game stores were withholding the information. Blizzard pride themselves on their metrics and the ability to analyse how the game is being played.

If Millions of returning players was a shock to the system, it must have been utterly galling for them to discover that they had lost the ability to retain it's player base. The issue is such an unmitigated disaster that Blizzard have since stopped telling us how many people are currently playing. None of us know because we don't actually see anybody's avatar roaming the streets, because we are all cocooned in our little Garrisons, too afraid to venture out, or more likely nothing to venture out for. One by one our cities have fallen silent, with only the metronomic conversation from the Trade Chat alerting us to the fact, that we are not totally alone.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Leader Of The Pack

Playing the current WoW expansion, has left me with plenty time on my hands, the current content (Thanks for the content patch Blizzard). I have filled this void by utilising the Roster slots created by the merging of my Realm (Anachronos) with 2 others (Alonsus and KulTiras). This allows for 22 more slots and Death Knights, with the added advantage I can stay in the same Guild (they are used to my little foibles by now).

I have now maxed a Horde character and the one class that was missing off my Roster, which was a Shadow Priest. With 16 max level characters and 5 of them being Hunters, it was time to revisit some of the other classes.

My latest creation is the very odd looking Ronron.

A Male Dwarf Mage, with fiery red hair, beard and eyes, and a rather fetching purple dress, showing off those bulging biceps. Some of you might have guessed that I don't much go in for Transmog, but it almost very tempting with this particular clown suit. Most of the ensemble is courtesy of Heirloom items.

I know that some people hate the idea of Heirlooms giving an additional 50% experience boost, but in my experience the levelling process was broken a long time ago, and in reality who wants to spend weeks getting to 100.

Gathering professions will shower you with experience, with Archaeology being particularly generous. I am still unsure what it is that skinning did to upset the Devs at Blizzard, so my tip is stick with Mining and Herbing.

Getting around Azeroth as a young pup is always a chore, but it is noticeable that everybody has the Chauffeured Chopper, the irony is that it is a reward for collecting Heirlooms. To be honest I had no idea that I even had one. This will ease the pain of the 1-20 levels, having to run for 5 minutes to get from the Dwarven Quarter to the Mage Quarter in Stormwind.

The quickest way to level is to Dungeon Hop. Be prepared for a relatively rough ride if you are a caster. The Tank and any melee class will gather everything in the dungeon and run away with them. If you are lucky enough not to have any AoE at the lower levels or instant cast spells, you can be sure to witness the joy of your 3 second cast being rewarded by your target going round a corner or dying before you can even make a scorch mark on their armour.

Oddly enough I am happy that nobody speaks or at best notices that the 4th spot on the Damage table is always mine. It is not for want of trying, it just to be hoped that you can catch up with the Tank long enough to almost make it through your rotation on the boss.

2 to 3 levels can fly by in the short time you are underground. It is almost guaranteed that you need to change zones after the experience.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

River Deep Mountain High

I have written many posts since the day that Warlords of Draenor went live. Unfortunately I never published any of them. The reasons are many and varied and one day in the near future, I hope to share my deepest darkest thoughts on the current status of the game. Today I wanted to discuss the subject of the WoW Token.

The WoW Token

"What is a WoW Token? The WoW Token is an item in World of Warcraft.
  • What do I do with it? There are only two things you can do with a WoW Token:

    1. Buy one with money from the in-game Shop, then sell it in the Auction House for gold.
    2. Buy one with gold from the Auction House, then use it to add 30 days of game time to your World of Warcraft subscription."

    Ok, simple and straight forward, buy Gold with real money, or buy game time with Gold from the game.

    Economics 101 - Supply and Demand, the buying and selling of the WoW Token. You can buy one from Blizzard for $20, €20, £15, CN¥30, NT$500, or ₩22,000 and sell it in the AH. So for the sake of argument and the ever fluctuating Exchange Market if $1 = €1 why is the Token worth double the amount in Europe than in America? (At time of writing Europe = 86,116 and America = 39,764)

    How can this be possible for such disparity between two economies, in what is considered in Economic terms as the Developed Nations? If you want a sensible answer then don't Google it. Below are a sample of answers:

    " WoW rule 101, If US and Eu share something, US will always take the bigger half."

    "Do Europeans have more real money than Americans or do they see in game currency as worth more?"

    "People playing on European servers come from a much broader range of economic backgrounds than those playing in the US (keep in mind that African players use these servers too). "

    "It's more than possible that Blizzard set the price themselves. Not based on supply demand.
    They keep it intentionally high."

    The reality is of course much simpler. Americans are more likely to pay hard cash for in game Gold. The argument for spending real money is that I can earn $20 in an hour but it would take many hours of in game farming to earn 40,000 Gold, so it is worth buying the Token.

    For myself I am Gold rich and Cash poor, and even though the cost of my game time goes up each month , it is still nowhere near the amount of Gold that the game is spewing out every month.

    The equation is simple in that you get what your region wants, but Americans will look at the Europeans enviously thinking they get more Gold for their money, and the Europeans are thinking that the Americans get off lightly for their Game time.

    It appears the Americans are far more likely to accept the Pay-to-Win mentality that is driving the computer games industry. Every free game that comes on to the market has a cash incentive to progress, and from the Blizzard experiment it appears that the Europeans are generally unwilling to go along with this model.

    World of Warcraft is currently in a huge rut after what most people are saying is the worst expansion in the history of the game. At the moment I have to question if I would still be playing if I wasn't able to fund the subscription through in game time activities.

    The Garrison generates large amounts of Gold, for those willing to put the effort in, but in the future (next expansion) this income stream will dry up. At what point does the WoW token take too much effort to generate the required Gold and that we switch back to a subscription model. If we do that are we in effect Gold buyers?

    One Forum writer even suggested:

    "I'm not in any way suggesting you should do this, but I just find it funny that it's cheaper to buy gold from a website currently and purchase a wow token than it is to do it the legit way. Wasn't the whole point of wow token to combat gold sellers?"

    With the benefit of hindsight it is quite obvious that the WoW token had nothing to do with defeating the Gold sellers. The WoW token appeared on introduction to be an additional revenue stream for Blizzard, but it now appears to be merely giving people an option of, how to pay for their game time, money or Gold.

    None of this stops me each month looking enviously at the cost of US play time in Gold. If I was American I would be like Smaug, sleeping on a pile of Gold.